Monday, 31 October 2011

Aardman rules!

There's nowt worse than someone telling you you HAVE to read something, but in this case I hope you'll agree. Below is a link to a splendid piece in Friday's UK Guardian (I might now live 12,000 miles away but the Guardian love persists) about the Aardman feature film the Animator worked on, and the reason we decamped to Bristol for 18 months.

The story provides a wonderful insight into the painstaking effort that goes into a stop-motion movie (and gives me some idea of what the Animator was banging on about when we lived there).

Sunday, 30 October 2011

When freelancing turns good

One of my non-negotiables when I moved back to NZ was no more moonlighting.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had two jobs: a PR contract during daylight hours and freelance journalism gigs wedged into evenings and weekends. A few years ago, I recall looking at my diary and in the whole year, I only had two weekends when I wasn't bashing away at a laptop. Even when I was in Bristol, I landed a freelance contract with the excellent Food Magazine.

But when we returned to Welly in July, I decided that I wanted my life back. And so I have – until recently when calls from editors have started rolling in. And I have reverted to my usual inability to utter the magical word 'No'.

But I am going to try and limit it to a few favourites, including NZ's Your Home & Garden Mag (above), which I have scribbled for since Joan Rivers was wearing her original nose. I even wrote up our previous family home for it.

Today the Animator allowed me to escape the renovation gulag for a few hours so I could interview a gorgeous couple and nose around their fantastic house in the Wellington hills. Not only did they ply me with red wine, they also insisted I took home a jar of their home-made tomato chutney. Beautiful...

Saturday, 29 October 2011


Today, dear reader, I have three words for you: gorgeous, dog and ours.

We have just saved this delightful bundle of grey fur and indeterminate breed from death row (aka the Wellington City Pound).

In three weeks he will turn our duo into a trio, after we're all moved in and the nasty nails, paint and sharp objects have been put away.

This afternoon Vicki, the animal control officer, brought him over to see if he'd like us (and to check that the property was escape proof). And I cannot even begin to tell you how much we fell under his spell.

Today I rediscovered just how sweet doggie kisses are. November 18 CANNOT come quickly enough.

Name to be decided...

Friday, 28 October 2011

Copywriter, I feel your pain...

As a writer for hire, I've had to draft advertising copy for everything from air conditioning units and dairy products to insurance policies and clothing for rug rats.

As this following gem that someone sent me a while back so clearly illustrates, making tedious products or concepts sound interesting can be a long and twisting road filled with potholes you could fish in...

I know EXACTLY how this poor buggar feels...

Ink Cartridges :: HP :: Remanufactured HP 300 - (CC640EE) Black

Remanufactured HP 300. Contains 8ml of high quality pigment ink and will print 380 ... Do you know what? I really can't be bothered with writing these description anymore, it's a printer cartridge! What am I supposed to write really??? It's a cartridge that prints ink on to paper, you could print some work stuff or a colouring in page for the kids that they'll half do and then leave laying around on the floor or a poster of the horrible Jonas Bothers for your teen daughter hoping that she might stop listening to there pathetic attempt of music so much. There good quality cartridges I'll admit that, every time I've sneakily took some home with me they've worked perfectly, but the thing that's doing my head in now is writing about them day in and day out with the boss giving me an impossible deadline to finish them all by which means I can't even sit at my desk pretending to work like I know most people do in this place. My advice to you is if you've got to this page then you probably need a cartridge, or you have a weird fetish for ink cartridges, either way it's a ink cartridge, it works perfectly, so if you want one buy one, if you don't then why havn't you left this page allready?

Signed: The guy who writes the boring everyday mundane descriptions about printer cartridges everyday.

(Pic credit: Google Images)

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Is it wrong...

that I am totally and hopelessly addicted to The X Factor USA??

I have been painfully slow to clamber upon the X Factor bandwagon, and given that I used to turn up my nose at the British version, this latest habit has come as somewhat of a surprise.

But don't ring me, text me or expect me to wield a paintbrush on a Thursday or Friday night because I will be locked into a passionate televisual embrace with the super talented singers – and their even more gobsmacking self-belief – who are competing for the five million smackeroos. Their often tragic backstories are also utterly compelling – some are just out of rehab, others are living in their cars, some are one pay cheque away from doing so.

One punter who had me watching through a haze of tears is my personal favourite, 42-year-old Stacy (pictured below), who was repeatedly told she was too old to make it as a singer. “This is my last chance,” she tearfully, and somewhat repeatedly, said to cam.

And of course there's Simon Cowell's ridic hairdo, which is worth the price of entry alone.

Yes, I realise it's totally bonkers. But it's my kind of bonkers.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Christmas comes early

Today I played a game I like to call 'Say hello to clothes, household items and books you haven't seen for more than three months'.

Yes, the delivery boys finally made my dreams come true when they showed up at the new house with 50 boxes and parcels (only one is AWOL, away being sprayed by the biosecurity police). Just imagine your best ever Christmases and birthdays rolled into one. Now imagine that to the power of 10.

And, by some kind of miracle, not ONE of my highly fragile items was broken, scratched or even remotely disturbed.

A pleasant side order was discovering a couple of pairs of shoes and some items of clothing I have absolutely ZERO recollection of buying (but obviously must have in the last minute retail frenzy before we left Bristol).

Some clothes are a little crumpled, but it's nothing an ironing marathon won't cure; thankfully I know a thing or two about that.

As cliched as it sounds, today the last piece of the jigsaw dropped into place. It finally feels like we're home.

Monday, 24 October 2011

We are the champions

It took 24 years and, last night, a whole heap of nerves but they finally did it. The William Webb Ellis Cup will now rest in New Zealand's trophy cabinet for the next four years.

Sadly, it wasn't the most scintillating final and Les Blues certainly rose to the occasion. But with the slenderest of margins, the ABs managed to pull it off and are now the rugby world champions.

And I blame them for my stinking hangover...

(Pic credit:

Sunday, 23 October 2011

This weekend

No item is currently more likely to send me on a killing spree than sandpaper.

Yes, hours and hours of rubbing pieces of coated abrasive over walls has almost tipped me over the edge.

As light relief, the Animator has appointed me to painting duty. But, let's be clear, only to do the undercoat because he knows (quite rightly) that I'll get bored after an hour and do a rubbish job deliberately so I can be let off. Still, it'll be a pleasant change from sanding.

Thankfully last night my darling American friend Donna whisked us away from renovation serfdom to this newish Mexican place, La Boca Loca. And it may not be San Francisco's Mission District, but oh my goodness, it came close. Thank you Donna.

Today there will be the getting of veggies from the farmer's market, more whipping into shape of the new house and, later, the Rugby World Cup final. I pray I will have the energy to cheer on the boys in black, whilst the Animator will have his alcohol consumption monitored after Friday night's drunken antics!

(Pic: Google Images)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Bristol - the end

Yes, I know I've been back three months, but with all the house buying and renovating and the endless ties that need binding when you decide to stay put, I've only just gotten around to sorting out the photos of our last few weeks in Bristol.

I LOVE being home but there's a big permanent gap in my heart for the shiny happy people below. Gina, Anita, Frenchie and Yoma, I would happily trade any number of body parts for a tardis that could bring you back into my life, even for one night. Or, if you'd be so kind as to clone yourselves and send a copy to Welly so I'd have someone to play with, I would be ever so grateful...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The three dwarfs

I have officially turned into at least three of the seven dwarfs: Sleepy, on account of stress and the rash that is currently playing havoc with my slumber; Dopey, because of the aforementioned insomnia, and Grumpy because of all of the above (and more).

I am subsequently paying an unprecedented number of visits to my happy place this week – the arrival of our stuff from the UK. The nice but dim shipping chick has just told me the ship did indeed arrive in Welly on Saturday and our 51 items have been collected from the wharf. They now being held hostage by the Customs and Ag & Forestry bods.

Crossing everything on my person that I won't have to wait too long (and that it won't be too expensive to liberate them!)

(Pic credit: Disney)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Here come the men in black

An Englishman, a South African and an Aussie walk into a bar... the departure lounge at Auckland Airport!!!

At one place I worked in the UK, I had to endure months and months of jumped-up Brits telling me that NZ was rubbish at rugby, that England was the best team in the world and that we were chokers.

If they were watching last night, they would have seen what real rugby looks like – and heard the collective sound of four million people exhaling.

On a purely personal level, the gratuitous shots of SBW and Richard Kahui (even with their shirts on) was the cherry on top of a rather magnificent cake.

Twenty-four years after NZ and France played in the inaugural RWC final at Eden Park, the two sides meet again next weekend. We're not there yet and if the French bring their A game, anything can happen.

Exciting? Doesn't even come close....

(Pic credit: NZ Herald)

Sunday, 16 October 2011

This weekend was brought to you by DIY

This weekend's torture included:
  • screwing various things into the wall and unscrewing other things

  • carting heavy bits of timber up to the garden shed. This involved negotiating a steep flight of stairs and avoiding random rusty nails that taunted me with the fact it's been an age since my last tetanus injection.

  • rubbing sandpaper of various thickness against almost every visible surface. I now have fine dust in my hair, clothes and in places where dust was never designed to be. At this rate, I'll be finding it for the next week. Still, it's an ideal displacement activity for flea-induced scratching.

Quote of the week goes to the Animator:

You are not to be trusted with power tools. You'll just go and stuff it up and I'll have to do it over.”

In honour of that vote of confidence, here are some pics of the man himself...

Saturday, 15 October 2011


Between furious bouts of scratching (fleas in the carpet we ripped up; don't ask) and the Animator's snoring (too many wines; also don't ask) I got hardly any sleep last night.

But as mental as it sounds, I'm glad for the snoring. It means that my love is safe, warmly tucked up next to me.

With so much emotional stuff going on with moving countries, buying and renovating a house, our stuff arriving and missing my dear UK friends, right now I am truly grateful for those who love and support me. Near or far, you know who you are. Thank you.

(Pic: Google Images)

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Plucking the money tree

"Show me someone who lives within their means and I'll show you someone with no imagination..."

I'm not sure who was responsible for the above line but sweet baby Jesus, I'm on their side.

We are currently hemorrhaging cash on this bloody house; sparkies, heating folk, kitchen designers, plumbers, glaziers and furniture people all over Wellington currently have their snouts in our rapidly dwindling trough.

When I was made redundant in the UK, I used to play this sad little game where I would stave off psychological unhinged-ness by looking at all the lovely zeroes in my bank account. Fortunately I got over that game because glancing at my bank account now would only induce immutable depression.

Please, please say a prayer to the God of Visa for me....

(Pic credit: Google Images)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Warning: post contains "women's stuff"

Today a total stranger grabbed my breasts, shoved them between two plates of glass and squashed the buggery out of them.

And oh the pain: it grabbed me by the mammaries, leaving me a shivering, whimpering mess.

My pain threshold has never been high (hence my aversion to childbirth), but today's mammogram hurt so much I cried out several times, found it hard to breathe and was tempted to ask the radiographer if she was open to bribes.

But with a shocking SEVEN woman a day in NZ being diagnosed with breast cancer (that is not a typo, yes seven women per day in little ole NZ), I realised I had to suck it up.

Three hours later and the poor girls are still aching. I am now going to self medicate with chocolate because if there is pain, then there must be Whittaker's Dark Almond chocolate.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

I cried...

I'm not the kind of girl to cry at hulking great rugby players on the news (all bets are off, however, when it comes to fluffy dog stories).

But last night, while watching All Black fullback Mils Muliaina bow out of the Rugby World Cup - and his AB career - after breaking his shoulder in his 100th test on Sunday night, I lost the battle for control of my tear ducts.

Such a sad ending for a great player and, by all accounts, a thoroughly decent chap. But what really killed me was when Mils, fighting back his own tears, admitted how proud he was to be an All Black and a Kiwi.

Here's the link to the TV3 piece - not sure if it's available to be viewed outside of Aotearoa and I can't find it on YouTube. But if you do manage to view it, I'd defy you to also hold back the tears...

Monday, 10 October 2011

Before I Die

Earlier this year, American artist Candy Chang had the brilliant idea of turning an abandoned building in New Orleans into a giant chalkboard where folk could share their dreams in a public context.

Apparently she was astounded with the response. Kinda makes you think about your own bucket list...

Sunday, 9 October 2011

New horizons

It is still exhaustion o' clock around here.

I am sick to death of stripping wallpaper, ripping up carpets and the other tedious stuff that DIY is made of. The good news is I promise to stop banging on about it.

I am now doing something I NEVER thought I would - cheering on Australia against South Africa. I know.

But one thing has me transfixed - James O'Connor's hair. Does the Wallabies no 14 think it's 1980? And is he auditioning for a Duran Duran tribute band?

(Pic: Google Images)

Saturday, 8 October 2011


Today I spent hours up a ladder devising various forms of torture for the fuckwit who invented wallpaper (and its equally vile sibling, wallpaper paste).

Take it from me people, you should NEVER, EVER USE WALLPAPER. EVER. Not only is it ugly, it's also a bastard to remove. Spare a thought for those who come after you who wish to erase your bad taste.

Ever the optimist, I have managed to chisel a few beams of sunlight from today's dark shaft of misery, namely a visit to the locked cupboard under the stairs of our rental property where I was reunited with ornaments and clothing I haven't seen for 18 months. Glorious.

Now, to my eternal shame, I have blown off going into town to watch the rugby extravaganza that's on this weekend. I am far too tired to do much more than order a takeout, crack open a bottle of red and turn on the telly to see (hopefully) Ireland kill the Welsh (and, later, for the French to wake up and do the same to the Poms). Bring it on...

Friday, 7 October 2011


‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary’ ~ Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

I may be a hold out when it comes to Jobs' iPhone (feels far too much like a 'cult' for my liking) but I simply could not live without my iPod. Thank you, Steve, for changing the way we live...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Beauty alert

With every day that passes, I miss Molly more and more. So until we can sort out the house and (fingers crossed) start looking for a new doggie, my canine yearnings will have to be sated with these ADORABLE pics from Tumblr. Sigh...


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